07/14/2012 5:34PM

Arlington Park: Cozzetti shows heart by squeezing through tight hole in American Derby

Four Footed Fotos
Cozzetti (right) comes through a narrow opening along the rail under Shaun Bridgmohan to win the American Derby.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Silver Max might be the best 3-year-old turf horse in the country right now, but trainer Dale Romans didn’t need him to win the American Derby on Saturday at Arlington. Romans-trained Cozzetti, who Silver Max beat by almost seven lengths when they met June 13 at Indiana Downs, slipped through a tight spot on the rail in deep stretch and edged pacesetting All Stormy in the Grade 3, $200,000 American Derby.

Cozzetti, always close to  All Stormy and Skyring while racing along the rail through slow fractions, tried to come out for a stretch run at the eighth pole, but jockey Joel Rosario on Skyring had just enough horse to lock Shaun Bridgmohan and Cozzetti inside. Bridgmohan looked back inside, and after being briefly shut off  by All Stormy, found a narrow seam between that rival and the fence.

“It was a little tight, but he was game,” said Bridgmohan.

Cozzetti won by a neck, but could have scored by more with a better trip, which only serves to emphasize the bountiful talent of Silver Max, who was entered in the American Derby but never made the trip here from Churchill Downs. Cozzetti raced mainly on turf and synthetic as a 2-year-old, but was given a look as a Triple Crown candidate this year, finishing third in the Tampa Derby, fourth in the Arkansas Derby, and seventh in the Preakness. By Cozzene and out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, Cozzetti is bred for grass and clearly appreciated returning to it last month, though he was no match for Silver Max going a mile on the tight Indiana Downs course. The American Derby was his first stakes win and the second win of his career.

All Stormy finished a head in front of Skyring, who was a half-length better than favored Daddy Nose Best, who was within striking range at the top of the stretch but could not quite finish with the top three.

Cozzetti, owned by the Allbaugh Family Stable, paid $10 to win and was timed in 1:57.42 for 1 3/16 miles on “good” turf.